Thursday, December 20


It's a Wonderful Life was shown in a charity preview at New York's Globe Theatre the day before its official premier on this day in 1946. The film was directed by Frank Capra and starred Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore. It became an instant holiday hit.

Based on the story The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern, it focused on a man who believed he was a failure in life--all because he never left the small town where he grew up. George Bailey, ran his family's small-town savings and loan, something he swore as a child he’d never do. George, a decent and good man who served his town well, struggled to make ends meet at a job he never really loved. When disaster strikes, Bailey decides to commit suicide. But then, in a Christmas Carol-like twist of fate, an angel named Clarence helps George see what life would have been like in the town if he had never been born. In the process, he rediscovers all the things that matter most--and realizes that he has actually had them all along.

The film's emotional ending, vindicating the values of hard-work, community, faithfulness, service, loyalty, friendship, faith, family, and true love, is an undoubted classic.

It's a Wonderful Life was reportedly the favorite work of both actor Stewart and director Capra from their long and illustrious careers. And, as you might have guessed, it is one of my all-time favorite films as well--holiday or otherwise.


Lawrence Underwood said...

I've already watched this film twice this season and could sit down to it again. One of my favourite movies.

W. Mark Whitlock said...

I was too smug as a teenager to waste my time with black and white movies. I thought they were better left in the past. One weekend, during a Spring semester during college, I drove home to wash laundry and recharge my batteries. My parents were on a short trip of their own. I got bored and wanted to watch a movie. I dug around in the cabinet and found a Jimmy Stewart movie. I'd heard of Stewart. Maybe this black and white tripe will keep me occupied, I thought to myself. 130 minutes later I was a puddle of tears and ashamed that I had never seen this movie before.

Years later, during one of the darkest seasons of my life, friends reached out to me with compassion and generosity. I felt like George when he heard the immortal words, "No man is a failure who has friends." I bought a bunch of copies of Tom Sawyer and gave them as gifts to the folks who brought light into my grayness.

This Christmas, we're going to the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville to see the movie on the big screen.

There's been a lot of hype in recent years about men pursuing their dreams. One of these writers takes a stab at George Bailey as a man whose soul is dead and who has lost his heart. He's less of a man because his architectural plans and engineering models are in a corner. Why, he doesn't even live in a house he's built himself. He doesn't have the life he wanted. He must be a weak, emasculated man.

Stern's character (brought alive by a great screenplay and brilliant portrayal by Stewart) helps me, a man who hasn't achieved many of his dreams, remember what's important. Character.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I have wonderful memories of discovering this film late one Christmas Eve at my grandmother's home in the early 70's. I was flipping around the TV and old Channel 5, WTTG, out of Washington D.C. was airing it. Even as a teen-ager, I loved it! My whole family watches it each year, often more than once. My wife and I watched it earlier this week. Classic Americana and a great lesson for us all. BTW, there was a heat-wave in California when the movie was actually being filmed.

Andrew said...

I love that movie! I haven't seen it yet this season, but it's one of my favorites.

I'm delighted to find that you have a blog Dr. Grant! I attended your lectures at the Vision Forum History of the World Conference (as I recall I was planning on listening to one or two... but after hearing your first, I dropped all the other sessions I had been planning on to hear the rest). I guess that was a a couple of years ago, but I just thought to do a search for you... so I'm very glad to find you and the podcast.

God Bless,

- Andrew

gileskirk said...

All: There is a beautiful, newly digitized version of the film in a nice boxed set including original script, interviews, and analysis in a finely bound coffee table book. And, it is very inexpensive through Books-a-Million this season.

Al said...

Dr. Grant,

You may enjoy this version:

Wonderful Life by The Bunnies

al sends

Al said...

Oh, just to let you know... Our family has been using your Spirit of Christmas book during our family Advent readings for the last couple of years. It has been a blessing. Thanks so much and Merry Christmas!

al sends

Diane V. said...

I've been so busy getting ready for Christmas I have yet to take in my annual viewing of one of my movie faves of all! George Bailey was given quite an extraordinary gift - to see the impact his life had on others! I often wonder what that would be like. God has used this movie in my life not only to remind me to continually embrace the things that matter most, but to increase my desire to be a servant - to be His servant! I think I'll snuggle up on the couch with my fam and watch it this very night!!